Article of interest: Long-term Results of a RCT of a Nonoperative Strategy (Watchful Waiting) for Men With Minimally Symptomatic Inguinal Hernias

This week’s discussion included what are the best treatment options for asymptomatic and symptomatic inguinal hernias.


Fitzgibbons RJ Jr, Ramanan B, Arya S, et al. Long-term results of a randomized controlled trial of a nonoperative strategy (watchful waiting) for men with minimally symptomatic inguinal hernias. Ann Surg. 2013;258(3):508–515.

Results: Eighty-one of the 254 men (31.9%) crossed over to surgical repair before the end of the original study, December 31, 2004, with a median follow-up of 3.2 (range: 2-4.5) years. The patients have now been followed for an additional 7 years with a maximum follow-up of 11.5 years. The estimated cumulative CO rates using Kaplan-Meier analysis was 68%. Men older than 65 years crossed over at a considerably higher rate than younger men (79% vs 62%). The most common reason for CO was pain (54.1%). A total of 3 patients have required an emergency operation, but there has been no mortality.

Conclusions: Men who present to their physicians because of an inguinal hernia even when minimally symptomatic should be counseled that although WW is a reasonable and safe strategy, symptoms will likely progress and an operation will be needed eventually.

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